Vietnamese Fishing Association Dismisses China’s Threat to Jail Fishermen


A threat issued this week by China to jail foreign fishermen who enter disputed areas of the South China Sea prompted the head of an influential Vietnamese fishing organization on Thursday to dismiss the move and assert that fishermen will continue to work in those waters, with his country taking measures against China if necessary.

“Vietnamese fishermen will continue fishing in the area as usual,” said Phan Huy Hoang, chairman of Quang Ngai Province Fishery Association. “If China should take any action [against the fishermen], the government of Vietnam will apply measures to deal with it.”

“This statement is just like other statements they [the Chinese] have made in the past to ban any fishing activities in the South China Sea within a certain area and time period,” he said. “Those statements that ban fishing activities within their nine-dash line are illegitimate, and nobody should acknowledge them.”

China’s Supreme Court said on Tuesday that the country will protect its territorial sovereignty and navigation interests within a nine-dash demarcation line that Beijing uses to claim 90 percent of the South China Sea, and jail those caught illegally fishing in its waters for up to one year.

“We already have had difficulties [fishing in the South China Sea], and I can see that we will have more difficulties,” Hoang said. “We assert our legitimate right to places where we have economic activities.”

“The international community does not accept China’s statements, so I think this should not affect the activities of Vietnamese fishermen in general and Quang Ngai fishermen in particular in their traditional fishing grounds in the South China Sea,” he said.